THIS IS THE last Sunday of the thirteenth year of the new millennium. And these are three photos for three songs for you and for me to remember the future. There is only a future if there is the song of the past and sometimes the song of the past is a dumb one. Sometimes it’s a skinny ass teen aged geek busted up on the fumes of lust. Other times it’s the recalcitrant smirk of who we used to be. And then, sometimes the song of the past is a pocketful of hope that lamplights all sense. Sometimes a song is just a song.
1. The Kiss
There was a point in my life, somewhere around 2007-2009, when I realized if I needed to listen to pop music it might as well be the Cure.
So for the end of the 13th year since millennial bliss was bestowed, here at the end of the 52nd week, this is what I know; more than any other band, the Cure told me during the wobbly kneed years that there would be someone else who felt that same jarring fatigue of awkward living that I did. So, I kissed magazines, I kissed left behind sweaters, I kissed the air after that lithe girl walked by.
2. See See Rider
In 2002 I bought myself an old 60s muscle car and the way that it rumbled and squeaked and powered around corners was a thrill that won’t ever leave me. Still, a few years deeper into the decade, the car moved on to another owner. The miracle of its passing was a lesson in how to appreciate the art of riding along. It’s an epiphany, being a passenger. To drift into the conversation only as ear, or to capture a glimpse you unravel slowly even as it has passed, until sitting at a table with a friend you haven’t seen for fifteen years, you unspool the entire reel, sound and vision, for the lot gathered to have at it. This is a marvelous jazz version of See See Rider by Mr. Bunk Johnson.
3. I Can’t Turn You Loose
The first time I heard Otis Redding I was bopping along to Donna Summers on a small clock radio my parents got me for Christmas. In the flutter of the sound of the Seventies, the DJ slipped in some frantic Otis Redding pleading and single-digit-child that I was, I understood the emotional transmission Redding offered and I was hooked. But youth is youth, a vine that climbs through mystery, so I didn’t know where to find more Otis once that DJ split for fairer pastures. It was seven or eight years before I got goosed by Redding’s magic again, that time watching the Blues Brothers distill his ever pregnant jam, I Can’t Turn You Loose. There is no other song that explodes with the same urgent desire while bristling with such confidence. What great noise came out of Memphis. What joy. What syncopated philosophical magnificence. Find someone you love and hold them as close to you as you can because you only ever own your memories. Share them with someone you care about this new year…